In Turkey, the Social Democrat government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is grappling with serious economic problems, and mounting guerrilla violence.
In Turkey, the Social Democrat government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is grappling with serious economic problems, and mounting guerrilla violence. Earlier this month the country's currency was devalued and other economic measures introduced in what some observers saw as a compromise formula to satisfy the International Monetary Fund. Now, in its latest move, the government has extended martial law.
SYNOPSIS: In Istanbul, the sight of soldiers patrolling the streets is familiar. Here, and in twelve more of Turkey's sixty-seven provinces, martial law was introduced late last year, in an effort to end political and sectarian rioting.
The move came after political riots in the sough-eastern city of Kahramanmaras, which claimed almost one hundred lives. In the year before martial law was imposed, some one thousand people died through riots, mostly in the eastern and south-eastern provinces. Mr. Ecevit said martial law was needed to stem what he called "insurrection against the state".
Martial law was originally imposed for only two months. But, in February, the Turkish parliament, apparently impressed by a decrease in political violence, approved a two-month extension.
This week, the government sought parliamentary approval for a further extension of martial law. Prime Minister Ecevit wanted it to take effect for the first time in six more eastern provinces, and to be prolonged in all provinces under martial law for a further two months. The National Security Council had made earlier recommendations along these lines.
Mr. Ecevit, seated right, has claimed that martial law will not be allowed to destroy people's basic freedom, and that his minority government remains committed to democracy.
The Justice Party of Mr. Suleyman Demirel opposed the government, saying it has mishandled martial law. But the parliament consented to a further extension.